Friday, October 20, 2006

Abraham and Isaac

Recently I have been putting together a blog about the way in which the life and person of Saint Sebastian has been represented in art and literature. Underlying that venture of course was the pervasive homoeroticism of the way Sebastian is represented. The project, and a number of other things recently, have made me think on other themes, perhaps less likely ones, which for me at least contain a tinge of homoeroticism. One of these has always been the story of the sacrifice of Isaac (something of a misnomer since the sacrificial knife was stayed).

Finding an undertone in the story is, for me, not a new thing. I was familiar with it as a child and, as I might have written before in this blog, when I was a child there was a distinct masochistic part of my personality. This, of course is well nourished by an identification with Isaac in the story.

Despite some recent attempts within narrative criticism in Biblical theology to reenvision the story from Sarah's point of view, (attempts which are extremely interesting but, to me, in this context, irrelevant) this is an intensely male story. To read the text is to be enchanted by a very sutble interplay of trust and betrayal, power and submission, innocence and above all duty. These are powerful and attractive ideas when encountered by a young mind. There is a certain something about the conventions used in the artistic depiction of the scene too which calls loudly to the masochist: the binding, the being held down, the willing submission or the exicted struggle.

There is not as much material to create a entire blog based around these themes so this is a mini-exhibtion to enable me to revisit this haunting story.

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